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Library & Career Development

Development planning is about thinking ahead: what are you planning for next year, and how will it help your school meet its aims? It’s crucial you do this, but we know that lots of school librarians just don’t have time for extensive planning and service development, with term-time and split-school working becoming the norm in many places.

Your school’s SMT may not realise you are interested in contributing – this is why it’s important to find out who is responsible for development planning in your school, and chat to them. You may be lucky enough to contribute to the whole-school plan, but even if you’re not, you should still create your own. Here’s how:

Know what you want

Coming up with a library development plan isn’t as hard as you may think. The idea is to see what you’re already doing well, and identify gaps where you could do more.

There are two documents which can inform your planning, and which link up to the How Good is Our School 4 (HGIOS4) framework (which schools currently use to evaluate what they’re doing well, and where they could do better):

Vibrant Libraries, Thriving Schools: A National Strategy for School Libraries in Scotland 2018 – 2023 (VLTS)

How Good Is Our School Library? (HGIOSL)

VLTS is more of an improvement planning tool. It identifies five key areas you work in as a school librarian, and where you can make improvements:

  1. Curriculum, Learner Journey and Developing the Young Workforce
  2. Information, Digital Literacy and Digital Creativity
  3. Literacy, Numeracy and Family Learning
  4. Health and Wellbeing
  5. Leadership, Standards and Working Models.

HGIOSL is more of an evaluative tool. It uses a selection of library-relevant quality indicators from HGIOS4 to demonstrate the specific improvements offered by the library service you provide.

To save you time, SLGS Scotland created the VLTS Planning Tool: this is a simple spreadsheet with five tabs. You bullet point what you do in each row, and leave gaps where you don’t currently offer a service. These gaps show you possible areas for development.

Know what your school wants

The only way to know what your school’s priorities are for the next session is to ask, and listen:

  1. Pay particular attention at in-service days to items listed as ‘whole-school priorities’.
  2. Ask for a copy of the current school improvement plan.
  3. Ask to see a draft copy of next year’s improvement plan (summer term).
  4. Talk to teachers about their department’s priorities for next year.

The plan itself

You know the gaps in your own library service. You also know what your school’s priorities are for the coming year. Now all you need to do is commit your plans to paper or on screen, and spell out how your activities will help your school meet its aims for the coming year.

If your school has an improvement plan template used by departments, make sure you use one for the library – it shows SMT that the library is part of the whole-school improvement effort. If there isn’t a template (or if you don’t have access to one) create a simple (one or two page) document that outlines your plans. Check out the SLGS blog for example development plans.

Pencil in time to look at your development plan throughout the year. Ask yourself if you’re on track to meet your aims.

End of Year Report

In the summer term, you can look at your improvement plan and report on how you met your aims for the year (and how this, in turn, helped your school meet its overall aims).

Again, it’s useful to do this even if your line manager or SMT don’t request it. Send it to them anyway. Make it a short, great read, and share it as library news at the end of the year in whatever way best suits your school. Make sure your school community knows what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.

Performance Development Review / Personal Development Plan

The PDR is an annual meeting between you and your line manager, where you discuss the success of the previous year, and make plans for the next. Choosing your own personal goals needn’t be time-consuming. Don’t create extra work for yourself: think about what you’re already planning and how your goals can feed into this.

The VLTS Planning Tool can help you in your PDR too. For example, after completing the spreadsheet you might realise that your library doesn’t run storytelling events. Your PDR can include undertaking storytelling training during the year, so that next year the library can run storytelling sessions with the History department and its pupils.

If you’ve never worked in a school library before, start small with your goals. You’re learning a lot at once, and you’re the only person in your school doing your job. You may not have written a funding application before, let alone run an author event, so make sure your goal is achievable and skill-set based (complete a funding application for an author visit) rather than over-ambitious and too-specific (run an author event for 150 P7s as part of the English department’s transition project). Build up to these bigger goals – you’ll reach them much sooner than you think!

And finally

Every school librarian worth their salt comes across interesting ideas, research, resources, activities & projects they are inspired by throughout the course of a school year. Usually this happens when things are hectic, and you have no time to research them properly. Make sure you keep a note of these (even just as links in a Word document) so you can revisit them when it’s time for improvement planning.

Managing a School Library

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